Hyperspace blurs past in streaks of kyber blue. The gunship creaks as it shakes away the last debris of Jedha, the sand and dirt and the ancient stone carvings that slept in the desert. The ambers of NaJedha’s moon share only solidarity with hyperspace; they stretch for miles and miles, the far reaches of space as cold and never-ending as the haunted Jedhan nights, the wind that whipped the sands and howled to travellers, to pilgrims, and the thousands of beings that called NiJedha home. The interior of the gunship was not designed for passengers in mind, requiring only a skeleton of a crew. It is as cramped as NiJedha’s streets were packed, a city raised from the earth like a mountain. To think that only this morning, as the sun burned low over the horizon, its light unimpeded for only a few, golden hours before it rose up over the Imperial Star Destroyer and cast the city into shadow, that Baze had awoken to the clamour of occupied life. Where there was once wildlife, the caw of birds and the pitter-patter of reptiles scampering over the rooftops, the rush of TIE fighters and the steady thrum of shuttles called the city into morning. Stormtroopers marched where pilgrims once gathered, the crackle of their comms replacing the chatter and sounds of awe. Children still played in the streets and people still struggled to earn their keep, but the temple bells that used to rouse the city had been silenced years ago. Baze hardly remembers a time when he climbed the temple tower to begin the city chorus. The bell was stripped from the tower many years ago, a tradition stolen from its people as the kyber crystals were stolen from the ground upon which their lives were made - and now of all those people, of the Guardians and Disciples, the citizens and off-worlders, only two, just two, remain.
With his crown tipped back against the portside window, Baze watches the universe flash by. The generator for his repeater cannon is a poor substitute for a pillow, but Baze has been lugging it around for long enough to accustom himself to back-aches and bruises. The gun itself rests at his knee; there is nobody worth shooting here, not even the reprogrammed Imperial droid in the co-pilot’s chair, but there is scarcely the room for even one of forty-thousand rounds anyway. Firing a blaster bolt in here would probably damn them all. Baze may hold no love for himself, for Imperial defectors, or for the harbingers that triggered NiJedha’s destruction, but Chirrut, his husband and lifelong companion, is all the reason Baze needs to reign in his temper and stay his hand. For a little while, at least, until a Stormtrooper is foolish enough to cross his path.
“You should not wish for such things,” Chirrut admonishes, his Jedhan carrying over the rumble of the U-wing. He has a voice that has never learned how to quiet, never leant itself to whispers and secrets and speaking softly to ears. Baze would hear him even if the ship was crumpling down around them, metal twisting into metal as Jedha’s desert had crashed up into the sky. He closes his eyes for a moment, trying to rid himself of the sight, but the universe persists in burning bolt-blue and silver, a river raging relentlessly as it carries them away.
“Should I wish for anything, anymore?” Baze replies; there is little point in questioning Chirrut’s intuition, not now that they have been married for so long, not now that Baze knows every answer that Chirrut could possibly give. The Force is restless about you, he would say, it clings to your hands, your heart, and your gun. Baze would scoff and contemplate the trigger of the blaster as he is now, reassured by its weight and the power in his hands. He has long-since learned not to argue with Chirrut, but then again, his silence in the face of the Force is an argument in itself, and one that neither of them will win.
“Safe passage,” Chirrut says, eyes remaining closed but his head tilting up. It makes no difference should he open or close them, but even if Chirrut could observe this scrap-metal, dead-bolted world of electrical wires and ammunition about him, Baze isn’t sure he would will it upon him. “A hot meal at the end of the day.”
“Well we don’t get many of those,” Baze grumbles, scoffing this time. The noise draws the attention of the young Imperial defector fidgeting with his goggles. Well aware that he almost strangled the boy, Baze decides it best for the both of them if he ignores his wide-eyed stare, even if something in his chest hurts at doing so. He is weak to the wills and hopes of children, and while the defector can hardly be considered a child, there is a vulnerability about him that Baze feels compelled to protect.
Baze squashes that feeling down.
“All the more reason to wish for it,” Chirrut continues, and Baze shakes his head. If he could get what he wanted merely by wishing for it, then the occasional hot meal would not be his priority.
(But Chirrut knows that).
Unwilling to argue, Baze turns back to the window, the breath of his sigh creeping warm across the glass. He is no stranger to spaceflight, no stranger to the long, uncomfortable hours packed into shuttles with little food and water and no place to wander and stretch his legs. Chirrut is not, so it is hardly a surprise when he begins to mutter his mantra, his voice lifting over the clanking and cranking of the ship, the crackling of the comms, and the dips and shakes of the craft as star systems squeeze past. Baze, himself, is already restless, and they have scarcely been within this ship for an hour - a never-ending hour, yes, as dark as the anticipation of dawn and a new day, a day that will never come now, not for Jedha and its Holy City. Chirrut may be characterised by calm in the face of adversity - in the face of the Guardian trials, in the fall of the temple, in the rise of the Empire and the perpetual night of its shadow - but Jedha was his home. Its destruction has shaken him, that much Baze knows - but Baze dares not question if it has shaken Chirrut’s faith in the Force.
(Baze is cruel enough to want it, sometimes, but kind enough to never allow it).
Chirrut’s prayer attracts the attention of the woman with the kyber necklace - Jyn, the captain had called her; alight with the Force, had Chirrut. Her eyes are red from crying but her face is set in stone, and when she looks up, hardly moving in her curiosity, a body so like the Jedhan mountains grounding her heart in indifference, her glare is the smouldering fire that consumed the temple in flames.
Baze looks away, wishing he hadn’t seen. His head quakes as he rests it upon the shuttle, but the noise proves effective in deafening Jyn’s question. Chirrut repeats himself many times more before she interrupts, and he continues even as she withdraws back into herself, her confidence so like that of a child, a brash and fragile thing. Baze sighs again, pulling away from the star-spun river beyond the window. It seems that peace eludes him today, even in the presence of his husband.
“Repeat your question,” he calls in Basic, eyebrows raising to say yes, I mean you, as Jyn’s eyes flick towards him. “He is stubborn. He will not answer you.”
Displeasure twists Jyn’s expression from neutrality to mistrust. She is sitting behind Chirrut, and thus isn’t privy to his smug, micro-smile as she demands, “Who are you people? Why did you help us?”
“I did not help you,” Baze explains, jabbing a finger at his husband. “I helped him. And he helped you because he is foolish and rash.”
“I go where the Force wills me,” Chirrut argues, to which Baze hrmphs.
“And yet you are still foolish and rash.”
“And yet, we were where we were needed,” Chirrut says, blind but not oblivious to Jyn’s mounting incredulity. The defector sitting opposite Baze, too, is watching the exchange with eyes both bright and sad, a glint of sunlight falling with the rain. The captain doesn’t appear to be paying any mind, instead muttering darkly at the communications unit as he battles with the controls.
Baze can relate - Chirrut’s mood and interests are equally fickle.
“But how did you know about my necklace?” Jyn interrupts, glowering at Baze. Apparently, he's more likely to answer her question - that, or she wants somebody to see her glare. Chirrut certainly isn’t anybody’s first choice for that, which has resulted in Baze receiving many unsavoury looks upon his husband’s behalf over the years. “Are all of the Guardians like you?”
“I hope not,” Baze grumbles in Jedhan, earning himself a kyber-blue stare from his husband as well.
“Kyber crystals channel the Force. Your necklace sings a song that only it can sing, just as every crystal of kyber does. You may as well have called from the rooftops,” Chirrut explains, reaching up to the end of his wooden staff as he does. The slither of kyber embedded there is well-protected by a metal casing, but even beneath the dim buzz of the shuttle lights, it glows faintly. The extent to which Chirrut can or cannot see this for himself is a matter they have debated for many-a-year, mostly due to Baze’s reluctance to accept anything pertaining to or burning because of the Force. Once upon a time, Baze would have held a kyber crystal with reverence - and he had, cradling the very crystal in the heart of Chirrut’s staff - but it has been a long, weary time since he looked upon the kyber and felt anything except grief.
How Jyn clutches her necklace with white-knuckled hands suggests that she feels the same.
“So what?” she snaps, the tilt to her mouth twitching with unease. The U-wing shudders around them as it carves through the waves of hyperspace: Jyn jerks upright, both in surprise and challenge, clutching her necklace tight enough that the rope presses down into her skin. “People can track it?”
“Well -” Chirrut begins, only to fall short as Baze clears his throat, deterring that train of thought. Baze’s own opinions on the Force aside, hearing that her necklace may leave a trace is not something Jyn needs. Granted, it is unlikely that she has ever encountered a being with the ability to track it (bar Chirrut, of course, who revealed his hand in an instant), but a technicality like that will mean nothing to a woman who fights and bargains her way through life, alone and under Empire rule. For all that the necklace seems to hold sentimental value to her, Baze isn’t sure that Jyn wouldn’t throw it aside should it become apparent that it invites danger.
“It’s - it’s not like anyone will be following us, anyway,” the defector reasons, still fidgeting with his goggles. He glances over at Jyn and immediately blanches, and so settles his sad, hopeful expression on Chirrut instead, lest anybody else judge him for his conflicting emotions. Chirrut inclines his head towards him in turn, and Baze grunts, acknowledging the point even though it pains him to do so. Nobody will be tracking them from Jedha because there is nobody to do so, unless the Empire wishes to waste their resources trying to chase a lone rebel ship through hyperspace.
“Who are you?” Jyn asks, happy to interrogate everybody on the shuttle, it seems. “Are you the defector?”
“I - yes. I’m the pilot. I’m Bodhi - Rook. Galen Erso sent me, he said -”
“You knew my father?”
Bodhi falters - but only for a moment, and then he nods with a conviction that almost seems beyond him, as though he has found strength from just the mention of this Galen Erso. He leans forward, closer to Jyn despite Chirrut and the width of the ship between them, as though he hopes that she can inspire the same courage in him as her father.
“You’re - you’re Galen’s daughter?”
Jyn’s almost manic expression is enough of a confirmation. “Where is he? When did you last see him? Is he -?” She cuts herself off, ridding herself of whatever worry or sentiment that compelled her to ask. Her vehemence appears to have spooked Bodhi once again, but he only takes a minute to recover. He tells her what he knows - which isn't much, which is the most she has heard in years - and Jyn hangs onto his every word.
She is so young, Baze realises, they're both so painfully young. The war will ruin them just as it has ruined him, worn him down like the old temple statues, weathered his edges into jagged corners and cracks. Chirrut has withstood time’s heavy hand far better than Baze; he has faith, and hope, and a smile to fight the day, whereas Baze has a cannon and a marksman’s eye. What the war will leave Jyn and Bodhi with is anybody’s guess, if it leaves them with anything at all.
Baze tunes out of the conversation. Basic is a slow and steady tumble in his ears anyway, unpracticed on his tongue and clunky from his mouth. Allowing the sounds to wash over him is a relief, and soon it joins the background rattles and groans of the ship. In the cockpit, the captain - Andor, Baze remembers, Cassian Andor - and the ex-Imperial droid converse in low tones. The communication headset dangles from Cassian’s neck, a thin wire connecting it to the monitor. Beyond him, the front window of the ship flickers black and blue as it pushes ceaselessly through space. It feels as though they could be anywhere in the universe, trapped within a pocket of reality where time and distance hold no meaning; where NiJedha has yet to crumble, where the Empire has ruled and fallen, where the Rebellion has won and lost.
Baze tracks the stars around the ship, quiet as the beams of light blur together from kyber crystals, to blaster bolts, to the rush of a river or the torrential downpour of rain. His head bows heavy as his eyes unfocus, and he feels an inexplicable coldness seep out from his chest, creeping up towards his neck and tingling down his arms. He clenches and unclenches his hands a few times to encourage back their feeling, but the white-hot, ice-cold sensation lingers in the tips of his fingers. Perhaps their hasty escape from Jedha has injured him some, and yet Baze cannot pinpoint any pain - cannot find any reason as to why his heart is thundering, tightening and thumping and clogging his throat with a sick, breathless sensation. Perhaps he is tired - and so he screws his eyes shut to will away the world, the sounds of the shuttle and Chirrut’s mantra fading into a distant hum; a hum not unlike the purr of a fighter engine over the sky, the warning whoosh of X-wings cutting open the night.
The ship shudders and so does Baze, a chill so cold pouring over him that he may as well be crouched in the rain. The generator for his cannon whirs as the X-wings do, spitting bolts as white as the hyperdrive, as white as the shine of Chirrut’s staff leading them through mud and water, along a cliff-face in the dark. Baze can feel the splatter of dirt against his legs, icy cold and sharp. Rain gushes down around him; it falls with such ferocity that each droplet is a blaster-bullet, one through his thigh and another into his shoulder, drowning him in grief and burning through him with pain. He can hear voices - Chirrut and Jyn - and so he must be inside the shuttle, and yet Baze feels as though he has fallen a great distance, as though he is still falling, the world spinning and ringing and screaming around him; come back! he hears, a call of fear from far away, come back, Chirrut, come - !
When Baze opens his eyes, all he can see is rain. It splatters in through the open door, soaking his trousers and pitter-pattering against his gun. Over-saturated, the ground squelches as Chirrut trudges through it, his staff slapping into the earth with every step. He walks confidently into the storm, into the darkness, away from Baze, and when Baze opens his mouth to call out, the stale air of the rebel U-wing punches back into his chest.
He startles, a primal noise of terror wheezing out of his throat. Pain throbs at the back of his head as he strikes it against the shuttle, and one of Baze’s legs kicks out, still tingling where the blaster-bolt tore through. A hand rests upon his knee to calm him, and another reaches back to his crown. The comb of fingers through his hair lures Baze back to reality. He grunts, struggling to swallow. Chirrut’s voice answers as softly as it can manage, urgent and concerned, and with it, the rain of a planet miles and miles away eases off, leaving Baze as dry as he had been, and as dry as he always was.
“I'm here,” Chirrut says, squeezing Baze’s knee. He is knelt on the shuttle floor, curled beside Baze’s side in an attempt to shield him from Jyn and Bodhi’s stares. It doesn't do much good; Baze can still feel their curiosity like the numbness tingling in his arms, but whereas their concern only heightens the longer he is quiet, slowly, ever so slowly, the flood of rain and nausea ebbs away.
Baze nods, reaching to lay a hand over Chirrut’s. Verbal reassurance is beyond him at the moment, his throat thick with air as he heaves it down. His head hurts and so do his eyes, burning with tears that he cannot explain. Many, many years have passed since he felt like this, since he has experienced anything like this; vertigo and panic and the cold hand of the Force - of his mind, of these relentless, waking dreams - trying to drag him away.
“Are you with me?” Chirrut asks, tilting his head as though to hear Baze better - hear his laboured breaths and the slap of his tongue unsticking from his mouth. His thumb rubs circles into Baze’s knee, and his other hand glides down to one thick, tangled braid. Baze leans into the touch as he always does, comforted by the sensation of fingers stroking through his hair.
“Is he… all right?” Bodhi asks, voice barely a whisper.
Baze grunts at the question, too exhausted to think of an excuse. Bodhi’s concern twists unpleasantly inside of his chest, something like guilt imploring him to melt through the shuttle and allow hyperspace to carry him away. Unfortunately, Baze dedicated himself to a life of servitude - to the temple, to Jedha, and Chirrut, in ways - and thus hasn’t mastered this particular skill. Worrying others is something Baze strives to avoid at all costs, but even now, having grown old, and capable, and hardened by armour and fear over the years, he has little luck in achieving such a farfetched desire.
But Chirrut, who has known this for just as many years, smiles to reassure him - to reassure Bodhi, as well, and Jyn, and even Cassian half-turned towards them in the cockpit, eyebrows raised high. The reprogrammed droid merely maintains his vacant expression towards the console, working dutifully to guide the ship to their location, wherever that may be.
Baze, of course, has no idea where that will be, no matter what the Force tries to tell him.
“He will be fine,” Chirrut says, patting Baze’s knee with a there, there motion. Baze knows better than to take offence from the casual gesture, but he wrinkles his nose anyway, responding on cue. The fact that Chirrut’s smile fails to widen - that he fails to crack a joke or sprawl himself over Baze’s lap to distract from the sombre atmosphere with a garish display to affection - reveals his true opinion, but only Baze is to know that.
“It was nothing,” he tries, squeezing Chirrut’s hand. “Just a passing spell.”
This time, Chirrut’s mouth does twitch up into a smile. “Baze,” he says, reaching up to cup Baze’s cheek. “Beloved. You are my brightest star in this sea of darkness, but you cannot lie to me. Deny it all you will - and I know you will - but we both know that the Force has seen fit to gift you with this.”
“If he needs medical attention, there’s a kit under the bench,” Cassian says, interrupting before Baze can attempt to equivocate himself out from under Chirrut’s disapproving look. At Cassian’s side, the droid’s eyes flicker with an uninterpretable emotion, an off-white grey, but Cassian doesn’t translate as he turns back to the console. “Anything else’ll have to wait.”
“Until when?” Jyn demands, still spitting that fire she contains. “Where are we going?”
“Not back to Yavin, not yet,” Cassian replies. He pulls the headset from his neck and drops it back over his ears, ignoring how Jyn seethes behind him. “Kay, set course for Eadu.”
“That’s in the Bheriz sector,” Bodhi mumbles. “It’s Imperial territory.”
“Is that where my father is?” Jyn calls, and in Baze’s ears her voice rises up over thunder and rain and the crash of X-wings into the mountains and gloom; father! she screams, and Baze’s repeater cannon shrieks as she heaves a wet, heaving sob.
He breathes in sharp through his nose, closing his eyes for a moment. Chirrut shifts beside him, rearranging his dust-bitten Guardian robes and staff until they are shoulder-to-shoulder. Guilt rises in Baze’s chest as Chirrut seats himself down on the floor, but it is quickly smothered by surprise as Chirrut lays his head down on Baze’s shoulder. Being affectionate in public has never ruffled Chirrut, unlike Baze, whose only wish is to please everybody in the world, who shies away from the judgements of strangers and hides himself beyond the safety of his home. For the most part, Chirrut respects this, although there have been times when he has pushed beyond Baze’s patience - for better and for worse. This is certainly one of those times; torn from their home and dependent on the good-will of a stranger, his droid, and the two other war-stricken fugitives travestying as crew, here and now is, by far, the most inappropriate place that Baze can think of. And yet, with NiJedha destroyed and their future cast into shadow, perhaps there is no better place to simply be grateful that he and his husband are alive.
“What did you See?” Chirrut asks, now that the others are distracted by bickering. He lays a hand palm-up in invitation, and Baze clasps it within one of his own. “What did you feel?”
“Chirrut, we both know that I cannot accept the Force,” Baze grumbles, squeezing Chirrut’s hand to soften the blow. “It would not reach to me, not now, not anymore.”
“And yet it has. I dare not think that the experience a Force-vision is something you can simply forget. Or have you forgotten, after all these years?”
Baze can only wish he had. Even during his days within the temple, when he lived to serve and loved the Force, its teachings, and dedicated himself to Guardianship, meditating, sparring, translating, gardening and all the things he had enjoyed, even then, his Force-visions were few and far between. Months would pass before the Force would reveal glimpses of the future, blinding him with light as he twirled with the quarterstaff or overwhelming him with emotion as he stood in sentry at the mouth of the kyber caves. The promises of peace were always his favourite, when his chest would swell with happiness and a sun still yet to shine would warm him all through winter long. But those moments visited him less and less frequently as the Empire stirred across the galaxy, waking the most terrible parts of the universe. Terror began to fill Baze’s dreams, the Force and its believers crying out to him with warnings, pleas, and hours upon hours of bloody and violent deaths. He couldn’t take it - and he tried, he tried so hard to shoulder the Force’s voice as Jedha and its people fell silent in fear - but when he began to dread the hours upon awakening as he did upon falling asleep, Baze shut himself off from the Force.
Not one single vision has plagued him since then.
He should have known better.
“If the Force wants me to See,” Baze says, aware that to deny what he has Seen is to lie to Chirrut, and that’s the one thing that he will not lower himself to, not anymore. “Then why has it waited ‘till now?”
He Saw nothing of NiJedha’s destruction - nothing of Jyn’s arrival and the glint of kyber at her neck, nothing of Gerrera (although Baze certainly won’t complain), and nothing of the black moon that rose over the horizon and crashed down into the sand. Did the Force not wish to warn him, or is it Baze’s fault that he and Chirrut had woken to the bustle of stone and metal over their home for the last time this morning?
Chirrut is quiet for a long moment, pensive as he rarely is. Words come rapidly to Chirrut, bluffs and reasons and speeches to inspire. If Baze is the eyes of the Force, then Chirrut is its tongue. His belief has never wavered, and he has recited the Guardian’s mantras enough to talk even the patient Jedi to death; were the Jedi still alive, then their faith would hardly hold a candle to Chirrut’s. He truly is the most devoted, and so it comes as a surprise when he doesn’t immediately berate Baze for thinking he could understand the will of the Force.
All is as the Force wills it, as Chirrut would say - and yet now he does not, humming a thoughtful note. Baze half wishes he would, if only to reassure himself that NiJedha’s desolation has not tipped the scales of Chirrut’s hope and bidden him to suffer in denial as Baze has all of these faithless years.
“Perhaps some things are not to be changed,” Chirrut reasons, turning his face slightly into Baze’s shoulder. “Perhaps they cannot be changed. Was it Jedha’s destruction that you Saw?”
Anger swells up inside Baze’s chest before he can quell it, a humid storm spitting sparks like the bolts from his cannon. He tempers it with a deep breath, wincing as the still air of the ship burns down his throat. “I would not have kept quiet about that,” he retorts, mostly believing himself. “If I’d had any idea -”
“You would have had us leave Jedha,” Chirrut interrupts, pulling back as Baze starts. He pats the back of Baze’s hand, trying to sooth his raging heartbeat. “I don’t mean this as a slight against you, beloved, but you would have taken us as far from Jedha as possible.”
Baze hates that he cannot deny it. “Is that such a bad thing?”
“No,” Chirrut says, in the same voice that he cries. “But we never would have met Jyn now, would we?”
Baze glances over to where Jyn has hunkered herself into a corner, glaring steadily at the hyperspace blurring past. Her thoughts are closely guarded, her expression revealing nothing, but the absence of tears or terror says enough. Baze hurts for her, hurts for Bodhi and even Cassian too; they’re only children, and now they have the ruins of Jedha weighing down their hearts.
(He wasn’t going to let himself grow attached, and yet).
“You say ‘we’ as though you would have left,” Baze sighs, tearing his gaze away from Jyn. He doesn’t look to his husband, aware that Chirrut has no such need to see him glower. No doubt Chirrut can hear it in his voice anyway, his words soft and hurting and sad. “I know you wouldn’t have.”
“Is that such a bad thing?” Chirrut replies, laying his head back down to press a smile into Baze’s shoulder. Baze huffs and offers Chirrut’s hand a reprimanding squeeze, and Chirrut’s laughter ebbs the final pitter-pattering of rain and panic away.
“There is a sixty-seven percent chance that the Guardian has suffered cranial damage upon our escape from the moon of Jedha,” comments the ex-Imperial droid, which earns himself a hasty, quiet Kay!
“I really should turn him into a toaster,” Baze grumbles - in Basic, because he wants the droid to hear.
“Not even he deserves that,” Chirrut says, and Baze throws back his head and laughs. Chirrut’s eyes crinkle, a smile tugging at his lips. “That seems to have reassured the children that you're not liable to keel over.”
Baze hums, doubtful that the children are the only ones fretting. “There are bigger things to worry about,” he says, thinking of Jedha and the Death Star with a rush of sadness. He will probably outlive this pain - the agony of his home torn away - but if the Force is truly listening, if it reaches for him even now, then he hopes not to outlive Chirrut, for it will be more than he can bear.
“Are you ready to tell me what you Saw?” Chirrut asks.
Baze doesn't believe he'll ever be ready, but he sighs and turns his cheek into the bristles of Chirrut’s hair. He is not sure there are the words to describe what he Saw, not when he felt the frigid rain on his skin and heard the blasters splitting open the salty air of the shore. Any words that he did hear are only fragments, hardly in a language that Baze understood, that he wants to understand. Except he knows the shape of Chirrut’s name from any tongue, and he closes his eyes, wishing that the one to call it hadn’t been his tongue.
He starts with smaller words, expecting them to be easier. “Rain. Enough to flood the lower square. The wind did not howl as it does on Jedha. Your staff was bright as you walked away.”
Chirrut draws his knees up, trying to sit closer. It must hurt his back to sit in such a way, and yet there isn’t a trace of pain in his voice. “Where was I going?”
Somewhere I cannot follow, Baze thinks. “I do not know,” he says, unable to utter those words. “I could not See so clearly. But I am sure I heard Jyn.”
“Jyn?” Chirrut probes, and she looks over at the sound of her name.
“Yes. She was -” Here Baze stumbles, aware that Jyn is listening even though she cannot understand. “Crying.”
“What are you talking about?” Jyn demands.
“Is this to be soon?” Chirrut asks. “On Eadu, perhaps?”
Baze shakes his head. Jyn’s jaw twitches at the gesture, taking offence. “I don't know,” he says, wishing he did. Why should he accept Force-visions when they offer nothing but worries and fear? And yet, should he knowingly disregard this warning and cause those around him to suffer - cause Chirrut to suffer - then Baze would never be able to forgive himself.
(He has already done plenty enough of that).
“Pilot,” he calls, raising his voice across the shuttle. “You know of Eadu?”
Bodhi startles, tugging at his sleeves. “Err - well, I mean, I've only been there once but - there's an Imperial compound there. A kyber refinery. It's almost impossible to access because the planet’s covered in mountains.”
“This is highly relevant information,” Kay notes from the cockpit, turning his head as though his audio receivers require direction. “Was it your intention to withhold this?”
Bodhi splutters. “No - no! I didn't - I just - I would have told you. I just assumed I wasn't the only one who knew. Eadu’s atmosphere is difficult to fly through. I can show you a safe way through the storms, but it will take us close to the refinery. It should cover our approach though; make finding Galen a bit easier.”
“Right,” Cassian says with a odd slant to his voice, focused on the navigational console. “What about the storms?”
“Err, well, it rains pretty much all of the time -”
Baze shuts his eyes, wishing for anything else. He wants to cling to the hope that Eadu and his vision are unrelated, but to do so would to delude himself, and even he cannot deny the connections. In the past, his visions were usually of distant events, fragments of years growing old or lives lived by other people, people he knows and hundreds he doesn't. Eadu will be upon them in hours. If Baze’s vision is true, then the rain will come and Chirrut will go - somewhere - and it will be up to Baze whether or not to follow.
He will follow - but into the storm, or to death?
Baze sighs, accepting the chance that the Force has given. The only question that remains is how he will use what he has seen; is he to dissuade Chirrut from leaving the shuttle, or prevent the shuttle from landing on Eadu altogether? Or is he to wait, follow Chirrut wherever he goes, and focus his efforts on Jyn instead?
“Why was Jyn crying?” Chirrut asks.
Baze tries to think beyond the splatter of rain and the crackle of fire as engines explode overhead. “She was calling for her father - Galen.”
Chirrut hums agreeably, sounding untroubled. He is not one to keep his cards close to his chest, and yet agreeable is not often a word that defines him. To the others on the shuttle, he will appear calm, thoughtful, and perhaps even half-asleep, but Baze knows that a complaisant Chirrut is a dangerous one. “Then will we find him at Eadu, as hoped.”
“If you’re going to sit there and discuss my father and I, I would rather you say it to me,” Jyn snaps, stomping across the shuttle to stand over them. She takes ahold of one of the safety straps hanging from the ceiling as the ship shakes, planting her feet firmly at Chirrut’s side. Chirrut tilts his head towards her, entirely unfazed by the imposing figure she presents, but Baze feels heat rising to his face, self-conscious of how he and his husband are curled up beside one another.
“Would you trade that necklace for a glimpse into your future?” Chirrut asks - asks again - only this time, it’s Baze whose eyes roll back in disbelief.
Jyn is equally unimpressed. “You’ve said that one before.”
“True! That is true. And you would be right to doubt me. I am but a mere monk, a servant of the Force. I am no herald, or prophet, if you will. But do not look so glum, Jyn Erso, not all is as you believe it to be.”
“What does - ?”
“Do you believe in the Force?” Chirrut interrupts, disarming her with a smile.
She considers him for a long moment, wary despite her higher ground. Her threatening stance means little to Chirrut, who smiles as blindly as he sees. “My mother did. She told me to trust it. But I don’t know what I believe in. And I don’t have time to believe in something that won’t help me. Tell me why you were talking about my father. Do you have a problem with this mission?”
“They’re not even rebels,” Bodhi objects, and Jyn snaps her head around to him, her jaw clacking together in anger. He quietens, holding his hands up in surrender, and Chirrut breathes a small, cynically amused sound.
“Please, sit down,” he says, gesturing to the seat he vacated to kneel beside Baze. “You are making my husband uncomfortable. And as a matter of fact, yes, we do have a problem with this mission.”
Baze ignores the well-meant slight against him. “The captain does not intend an extraction,” he announces, sure as he is of Galen’s misfortune, Jyn’s fear, and the rush of X-wings, rebel X-wings bringing fire through Eadu’s storm, that Chirrut has realised the same. The hard set to Cassian’s shoulders is a dead-ringer for guilt; Baze hunches into himself much the same, and he recognises the face of a man with secrets to keep. Whatever Cassian’s orders are, they are not to bring Galen Erso back alive.
It helps that Kay’s electronic oh dear gives the game away.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Cassian hisses, glancing warily at Jyn. She turns back to the cockpit slowly, her expression cold and set in horror. He fixes his gaze over her shoulder with difficulty, glaring at Baze instead. “You don’t know anything about my orders. Bodhi’s right - you’re not even rebels. You should keep opinions like that to yourself.”
“Opinions?” Baze challenges. “This is not an opinion.”
“You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?” Jyn accuses, and the only reason she doesn’t lunge across the shuttle is because Chirrut leans forward to snatch her wrist, quelling her burst of violence. She doesn’t fight him, but her next breath is sharp and painful, as though fire burns in her throat. Chirrut begins to rub circles into the underside of her wrist, but it doesn’t appear to alleviate her anger. “You need him! How else are we going to inform that rebellion about the reactor module? He sent the transmission!”
“The transmission that you saw and you didn’t pick up?” Cassian retorts. “We wouldn't even be here if you had.”
“We are not leaving my father with the Empire! He’s already risked -”
“Do you think he’s the only one who’s risked his life? How do you even know you can trust this transmission? Eadu could just be a trap.”
“My father wouldn’t lie about this.”
“You’re willing to bet your life on it?” Cassian throws a hand out towards the back of the shuttle, expression twisted in anger. “All of our lives on it?”
Jyn says nothing. The communication console beeps and whirs, and Kay’s titanium-reinforced fingers click and clack in the background of the argument. The shuttle groans, and the one of the circular lights fitted into the hold flickers and dies. Baze and Bodhi both glance up towards it, to where Jyn, cast anew in shadow beneath it, sets her expression in stone. Cassian shakes his head, either at her or the light is anyone’s guess, but just as he makes to turn back to the console, Chirrut, the only one unfazed by the darkness, the dark weight in the room, calls out.
“Nobody is asking you to die, captain,” is what he says, and the slant of his mouth is sad. “Only that you listen.”
“Listen to what?” Cassian snaps, exhausted by the question. “You? The Force?”
“Yourself,” Chirrut replies. “That’s all.”
Jyn turns towards him: she might as well have swallowed a star for all that her kyber crystal shines beneath her clothes. Cassian watches her with his jaw clenched before turning away. He reaches for the comms set but hesitates, and Kay turns towards him, both of their profiles alight with hyperspace-blue.
“But if you were open to a word or two from the Force,” Chirrut continues, and here he tilts his head to the side, the sweep of his sightless eyes away from Cassian prompting Baze to heave a sigh. He squeezes Baze’s hand again, a question, a request for consent, and Baze just breathes a sound of fondness before returning the gesture in kind.
Jedha is fire and sand behind them, but Eadu is a promise of blue.
And so Chirrut smiles and says well, “Then I believe it has something important to say.”